Dishonest Management, beautiful place A review of Callaway Gardens Resort
We were scheduled to stay at the garden Saturday and Sunday night. We arrived at 1:30am on Saturday night only to be told that our cabin was unavailable. We were told that the person staying in the room REFUSED to leave and according to Georgia law, they couldnt force the person out. So they sent us to a hotel in Columbus (30 miles away!) This was infuriating. This was our anniversary trip and we had two sleeping children in the car. I had made these reservations a month ago and knew that staying 30 miles away would ruin our Sunday activities since we would not get to the festival at the gardens before 2pm (it was 4am by now). The night desk clerk was so upset by our situation that she told us the *real* story. Management had overbooked the cabins by 30, yes 30, reservations. By the time we arrived, all the rooms were full. They had made up this story that guests did not want to leave. We spoke to other guests who were also relocated and were fed the same story. A little odd that there were multiple guests in the hotel who were squatting in their rooms on the same weekend!! It upset me greatly that the management treats their guests with such little respect. That they overbooked the hotel may be common practice in the hotel industry, although it is abhorrent to me that they would ruin someone's vacation with no remorse and amazing to me that they did overbooked by so many on a holiday weekend. If they engage in this obnoxious overbooking practice, fine, but be honest about it. Don't make up some fake story to cover up your error. And accept responsibility for having such a detrimental effect on another person's vacation. In the end, after lots of energy was expended and anger vented, we settled into a cabin for the second night. We participated in the festival for the remainder of Sunday afternoon and had a relaxing day on Monday, but I don't think the anxiety was worth it. They did not charge us for the cabin and covered our hotel bill in Columbus, so financially they made right (although it was not because they were forthcoming with this resolution -- it was our rage and outspoken-ness that forced their hand), but I would have gladly paid the full price of the cabin to be treated with respect and to be able enjoy a relaxing vacation.What I'll always remember about the trip: The dishonesty of the management. The cost cutting attitude of the management. The lack of organization of the events. Waiting on line for three hours to take a tethered hot air balloon ride because they was no communication about whether the balloons would go up or not. They kept making announcements that the balloon rides were starting and to go over to the balloon launch area but when we got there the ballooning teams hadn't even arrived yet! A walkie talkie was all they needed to organize the events!We left with the feeling that this entire festival was a money making exercise. Corners were cut everywhere. On a holiday weekend with a beach teeming with swimmers (mostly kids!) they had only one lifeguard on duty! That's just a cheap and unsafe way to save money. Again a management decision to show no respect for their guests. Most of the activities at the balloon festival were cheaply done. They advertised arts and crafts for the kids, they had little cheap coloring stuff to do; they advertised bubbles and sidewalk chalk - they didn't have any real bubble making toys/tools, just some yarn loops with drinking straws and plastic six pack holders. They had no sidewalk chalk artists, just a bunch of chalk to occupy a kids time; they advertised sand castle building -- I still do not know where this was -- maybe they figured since there was a beach kids can build their own castles -there was no organized castle building going on and no castle builders with any expertise. They advertised kite making and they had cut kite shaped pieces of letter size paper, colored them with crayons, attached a sting and called it a kite. Come on, provide real kite making kits! I guess my expectations were out of whack with the reality. For such an expensive place, I thought the festival would be first class. It ended up being a money pit where you pay 4.50 for a cup of lemonade and participate in chintzy activities designed to save money. I'd expect such activities from a church fundraising carnival run by kids, not from a supposedly first class resort like Callaway Gardens.It really is a beautiful place, but set your expectations low regarding any festivals and management interactions. If you will do this you may be pleasantly surprised. Be sure to check in early to avoid them giving your room away. Try checking in by phone first thing in the morning while you're still on the road!